Posted by Jules Benefico, Certified Clinical Herbalist on Jan 22nd 2021
If you’ve ever worked or studied at home (through choice or necessity), you know that this arrangement brings both opportunities and challenges. Many people find flexibility and freedom in working remotely, but blurring the boundaries between your personal and professional life can come at a price. For job holders, work that used to be confined to a certain place, during certain hours, may become available at any time, keeping us in a perpetual work mode and depriving us of the perspective and decompression that come from leaving the office. If you're a student, libraries and other dedicated study spaces may not be available on your schedule (or may still be closed due to COVID concerns). Plus, being at home offers no shortage of distractions (especially if you live with family or roommates), making it hard to stay focused.
While many of us might not have the space or means to create a full-fledged home office, we can adjust our habits, setting, and supplement regimen to establish a healthy and productive routine while working remotely. Giving structure to our workday can help us get into the zone when we need to work—and then get out of it again when it’s time to switch gears. With this in mind, here are five strategies for making working from home work for you...
#1 Avoid Burnout with Adaptogens
One of the most common issues people have when working from home is keeping their energy levels high, especially when the afternoon slump hits. An afternoon cup of coffee is a common go-to, but unfortunately, caffeine can deplete the adrenals, affect sleep, and cause nervous tension. Although caffeine can boost energy for a few hours, its aftereffects can lead to even more fatigue the following day. This is where adaptogens come in!
Adaptogenic herbs can provide a nourishing, non-jittery, and balanced boost when brain fuzziness hits. As their name suggests, these plants help your body “adapt” to long- and short-term stressors. Adaptogenic botanicals have been utilized for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and other healing traditions, and their remarkable benefits have brought them back into the public’s attention today.
Incorporating adaptogens into your daily routine can help you stay motivated and energized by boosting energy, increasing stress resistance, balancing hormones, and improving cognitive function. Three of our favorite adaptogens are tulsi, rhodiola, and eleuthero, all of which can be found in our Sustainable Energy Tincture.
ADAPTOGENIC HERBS FOR ENERGY
- Tulsi: This Ayurvedic plant is known to be broadly therapeutic, helping to elevate mood, reduce stress, and support optimal immune function.
- Eleuthero: This root helps bring the body back into homeostasis. Eleuthero supports the adrenals to help with mental and physical fatigue.
- Rhodiola: This tannin-rich herb is wonderful for relieving symptoms of mood disorders and reducing stress.
#2 Stay Motivated with Movement
Without in-person meetings, lunch breaks, and other brief interruptions to break up your work day, you can easily get lost in a screen vortex that keeps you glued to your chair for hours on end. There’s nothing wrong with riding a long wave of productivity now and again, but staying totally sedentary most of the day, everyday, will eventually take a toll on your body and mind. Movement helps to stimulate productivity, enhance creativity, elevate mood, and feel better in your body.
WAYS TO STAY ACTIVE WHILE WORKING FROM HOME
- Take stretch breaks: Set an alarm every hour on your phone for a 5-minute stretch break. YouTube hosts countless videos demonstrating how to safely perform a variety of stretches. If you have time for a longer break, a short yoga sequence can also help ease tension and refocus your mind. Regular stretching can help avoid overuse injuries and other sources of discomfort that can slow us down or distract us.
- Dance it out: Feeling tense, stuck, or overwhelmed? Keep a favorite upbeat playlist on the backburner and hit “play” when you need to work out some anxious energy!
- Walk outside: Going outside for some movement and sunlight can boost memory and attention when you get back to work. A Stanford University study found that walking can increase creativity by 60 percent—and the mental and physical health benefits of getting outdoors are an added bonus!
#3 Cultivate a Healthy Work Environment with Houseplants
Houseplants can work wonders for creating a happy home and workplace. They beautify any space, uplifting our mood and reducing anxiety. They can also improve air quality, removing many noxious chemicals, bacteria, and molds from the air and acting as natural humidifiers that reduce strain on the respiratory system and skin—all of which can help with focus and clarity.
HOUSEPLANTS FOR YOUR HOME OFFICE
- Spider plant: This elegant plant helps remove dust and other irritants from the air, and it’s safe for pets!
- Aloe vera: A first-aid plant is often used to soothe mild burns and other skin issues, aloe also comes in handy for neutralizing chemical irritants in the air.
- Snake plant: This low-maintenance plant is highly recommended for cleansing the air. It also releases oxygen at night, which can encourage restorative breathing.
- Peace lily: Uplift your mood and remove harmful chemicals and mold spores from the air with this lovely, harmonious flower.
#4 Find Focus with an Inspiring Workspace
Ever try to get anything done with a chaotic workspace? It’s almost impossible! Putting energy into tending to your home office is essential, even if you only have a corner of your living room to work with. Being strategic with your work environment can support productivity, organization, and focus.
TIPS TO CREATE A HOME OFFICE OR STUDY SPACE
- Make your space ergonomic: It’s difficult to stay present on all of those Zoom meetings if you’re slouching all day. A standing desk is great for your back and can aid focus. If that isn’t your style, a comfortable ergonomic chair is a worthy investment. Whatever your setup, try to arrange your screen and keyboard so that your arms and eyes are in proper alignment.
- Get good lighting: Adequate lighting can help support energy levels and productivity. Poor lighting can lower morale and cause distracting physical symptoms like eyestrain and headaches.
- Make it smell nice: Scent affects the mood, so we can use aromatherapy to help get us into the right mindset to do our best work. Try cleansing your space by diffusing an essential oil blend or using a room spray to move out stagnant energy and invite intention into your space. We like the room spray blends by Alaskan Essences, especially their Purification Spray.
- Create a focused headspace with nootropics: Nootropic herbs like bacopa, gotu kola, and ginkgo support optimal cognitive function, motivation, and persistence. Enjoy a quick and easy-to-take dose of nootropic herbs in our Clarity Tincture when you need to set distractions aside.
- Remember to breathe: Meditative deep breathing exercises can get us back into the zone by delivering more oxygen to brain, which can make us feel more alert, calm, and focused. Chandra bhedana, or “lunar breathing,” is an easy exercise that helps relax the body and declutter the mind. This simple meditation uses cyclical breath to flush out distraction and fatigue and bring in intention and energy. Lunar breathing can be done most anytime, anywhere, but we often find it helpful to create a calm atmosphere with a ritual candle, a grounding essential oil blend, or our Clarity Tincture for focus. Try lunar breathing by following along with the guided meditation video below
CALMING BREATHING EXERCISE FOR ANXIETY RELIEF & FOCUS
#5 Practice Self Care with Nervines
Work can cause stress and burnout even (and often especially) when done from home. Nervine botanicals nourish the nervous system, providing tension relief in the moment and resilience over time. Tending to the wellbeing of the nervous system can help you stay calm and on-task, even when workday stresses come your way. Here are some of our go-to nervines, which can be enjoyed in our Tranquility Tincture for stress relief .
NERVINES FOR WORK STRESS RELIEF
- California poppy: This bright orange flower has strong sedative properties that can ground the body and help release tension.
- Silk tree: Also called mimosa flower, Albizia julibrissin is known as the “tree of happiness” because of its potent mood-elevating and relaxing properties.
- Skullcap: Skullcap is a go-to for calming nervousness and restless feelings, and it can be used during the workday or before bed to quiet the mind.
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Written by Jules Benefico: Jules is a Clinical Western Herbalist at Five Flavors Herbs. She studies medical astrology, western alchemy, and clinical nutrition and infuses this into her herbal practice.